Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

12.33 8 May 2020


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People experiencing homelessness in Dublin will now be able to get COVID-19 test results within 45 minutes.

A new community assessment hub is now open on the site of the Mater Hospital.

The new facility is aimed specifically at providing care to vulnerable groups in the capital's inner city - including people who are homeless, those living in extreme poverty and undocumented migrants.

Overcrowded spaces such as hostels can make physical distancing and self-isolation extremely difficult.

Fiona O'Reilly, CEO of medical charity Safety Net, said it's vital to act quickly if there is a coronavirus outbreak in such settings.

She explained: "If we get somebody who has symptoms today in a congregated setting, our nurses can go in this afternoon.

"We can get the first few tests back within 45 minutes, and then we know if there is a problem in this congregated setting we need to lock down, isolate and move.

"You need to act fast to get on top of this."

Health Minister Simon Harris, meanwhile, said the number of COVID-19 cases among the homeless community is less than expected - saying that's a testament to the approach to test any potential cases as quickly as possible.

He said: "We owe a huge debt to these frontline workers who are putting their lives at risk in order to save others."

The newly opened hub - which will be operated by the Mater, HSE and Safety Net - will also include a mobile assessment unit working across the inner city.

Main image: Photo of the new community assessment hub. Image via Julien Behal Photography

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